Imagine walking into your backyard to collect salad greens and tomatoes for your dinner. Growing your own veggies has many benefits. Locally-grown produce is good for your body and your island. With the expensive, imported grocery store options, we don’t always get quality produce, and everyone appreciates that friend who shows up with freshly grown produce from their land.
Living on a fertile island with year-round growing conditions, many of us want to grow our own food. But if you’re a novice gardener, how do you start?
In a day-long workshop, you can learn all all the basics of growing your own garden. Farmer and educator Evan Ryan will cover all the basics of growing a vegetable garden. Topics will include everything from design to propagation and fertilizer to composting and pest management. The workshop will take place on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 9-4 am at the Pono Grown Farm Center in Makawao.
“Anyone with a home garden or wanting to start a home garden will benefit from this workshop,” says Ryan. “The workshop takes people through every phase of designing and caring for a home garden from the ground up, which is particularly useful for novice and intermediate gardeners.”
Ryan has lots of interactive activities planned. “The workshop weaves creative inspiration, cost-cutting strategies, and labor-saving ideas with long-term practical solutions,” Ryan says. “The day weaves together time in the classroom learning concepts and time in the garden witnessing the practical application of the concepts including garden design, soil building and fertilization, composting, plant propagation and harvesting.”
Ryan has been farming on Maui since 2000. He has a vision and plan for bringing the community together and feeding them with healthy food. Ryan’s farming career has centered on spreading the knowledge of growing food to Maui residents. He’s the founder of Pono Grown Farm Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to agricultural education. It helps people build a connection to the land.
According to Ryan, his 15-acre Upcountry farm “has a vibrant intern program, extensive vegetable gardens, hundreds of fruit trees, chickens and bees. We farm with rainwater catchment, solar electricity and power our vehicles with locally produced biodiesel.”
Ryan is also a mentor educator for the Hawai‘i Farmer’s Union United’s Farm Apprentice Mentorship Program, a program to train the future farmers of Maui. “Evan makes regenerative agriculture and food forestry approachable,” says one of his mentees. “He is a great teacher to the young and old.”
Ryan is also the founder of Hawai‘i Seed Grower’s Network. Through this initiative, he teaches home gardeners to save locally produced fruit and vegetable seed, which in turn reduces our dependence on commercial seed sources.
Ryan has extensive experiences with educating children and adults. He’s been farming and teaching workshops on permaculture design, edible landscaping, seed saving, vegetable garden and fruit tree orchard design and care for more than 15 years. He’s also the author of Hawai‘i Home Gardens: Growing Vegetables in the Subtropics Using Holistic Methods. It’s available at Hawaiihomegardens.com.
“Having a home garden offers us an opportunity to restore our earth one small patch at a time,” says Ryan. “By doing so, we create a cleaner, richer environment, providing food, medicine, beauty, clean air, abundant water, healthy soil and an inspired, well-nourished island community.”
The workshop fee is $75 per person. Preregistration is required as space is limited. Visit Hawaiihomegardens.com/classes to sign up.
Photo courtesy Evan Ryan